Lourdes beat Mount Vernon 59-58 on a deep 3 by Emily Forzano with five seconds left. The win all but clinched the No. 1 seed in the Class AA playoffs for the Warriors, who, at 16-2, have just Beacon and Poughkeepsie left on its schedule. MV now has three losses and with a decent finish will be seeded No. 2.
The outcome also ended Mount Vernon’s 29-game regular-season winning streak against Section 1 opponents. The Knights’ last loss to a Section 1 team came on Feb. 9, 2007, in their regular-season finale against Scarsdale. (They are also 6-2 in playoff games over that span, their only two losses coming the championship games against White Plains.)
But enough about seedings and records. Let’s get to the game.
Mount Vernon led 10-0 to start the game and held a five point lead at the half. Two of its key players, Taylor Palmer and Tatiana Lewin, who has played great of late, both picked up two fouls in the first quarter and sat the rest of the half. (So did Taneka Whittaker for Lourdes.) The Knights were also without Lubirdia Gordon, who had a cyst removed from her right shoulder and will miss the next two weeks.
Patrice-Wallace Moore told me after that she was happy MV stayed in front despite missing those key pieces. Eventually, however, the Knights fell behind in the third quarter. Lewin picked up her fourth foul and went back to the bench, pushing Palmer to the power forward spot. With that lineup, Lourdes did a good job of negating MV’s biggest advantage (rebounding), and it gained control for the first time in the game.
The lead changed hands in the fourth quarter. (It should be noted that Lourdes missed star Kim Dweck, who missed the last couple minutes of the third quarter and the beginning of the fourth with leg cramps, but returned for the final six minutes.) Mount Vernon appeared to take control for good when Sade King, its freshman point guard, made a big 3 to put the Knights up 54-49. Whittaker, who had just six points, answered with her only basket of the game, a 3 from the left corner. Rachel Crittenden later made a pair of free throws to tie the score. (She also played very strong in the paint, boxing out and grabbing rebounds. Crittenden helped “hold” Shanyce Stewart to nine rebounds today, which is quite a feat these days.)
Finally, Mount Vernon had the ball and called timeout with 21 seconds left. The score was tied 56-56 and I suspected that the Knights would take the last shot, thus giving themselves a chance to win or go to OT, and rendering a loss as an impossibility. Obviously, the ending unfolded in a worst-case scenario for them. Palmer was fouled on a drive to the hoop with 15 seconds left and made her pair of free throws, but Lourdes had a chance to hit the winning 3.
It’s an interesting scenario to be sure. I asked Wallace-Moore what she told her team during the timeout. She told the players to hold for one, but “to attack if you have an opening.” Palmer attacked. She even made her free throws. But it still didn’t work out.
If you’re from Mount Vernon, the ending was tough to handle at the moment. There is no greater dagger than losing in the final seconds — but in most cases you’d take the two-point lead with a few seconds left and trust your defense. Too bad for MV that Forzano drained a 25-footer, but some times you have to give the other team credit, too.
Were you there? I know many were. It was a big crowd for a Saturday morning. Let us know what you thought.
I’ll tell you: Lourdes will move ahead of Mount Vernon in this afternoon’s Top 10, but not far ahead. The teams are comparable, but not evenly matched. If they meet again, a lot will depend on the style of the game. Is it fast or slow? Is it called tight? Are the shots falling? (Lourdes probably has more depth and takes better care of the ball, but Mount Vernon has a more balanced lineup with everyone on the floor.)
Who do you think is the favorite? Did this change your opinion?
Mount Vernon —
Palmer 17 points
Stewart 10 points, 9 rebounds
Carece Moore 11 points, 8 rebounds, 5 steals, 4 assists
Lewin 5 points
King 13 points, 3 3-pointers
Kim Dweck 19 points
Forzano 12 points, 2 3-pointers
Crittenden 8 points
Whittaker 6 points, 1 field goal